Weston McKennie

Giovanni Reyna and Weston McKennie were the bright spots for Americans in the first round of Champions League group-stage action, with the BVB starlet notching two assists, and the Juventus midfielder providing his team’s only offensive output.

Borussia Dortmund 3 – 0 FC Copenhagen

Giovanni Reyna showed Dortmund and USMNT fans what they’ve been missing, racking up a pair of assists in his long substitute appearance as Dortmund breezed past FC Copenhagen on Tuesday night.

Dortmund coach Edin Terzic made it clear in his post-game comments that he had likely planned to give Reyna some substitute minutes in the game as he returns from repeated injury issues. However, his hand was forced when midfielder Thorgan Hazard was forced out after 23 minutes due to injury, with Reyna filling in for the remainder of the game.

The American responded with one of his most influential and mature professional games to date, racking up two quality assists, completing 82% of his 34 passes, creating a total of three chances, while taking one corner for the team.

Marco Reus got the scoring underway for the hosts in the 35th minute, running onto a short through-ball from Julian Brandt, cutting inward past his marking defender, then striking his low shot to the right side of goal for the 1-0 lead.

Reyna’s first contribution came three minutes before the half, as he received the ball from Raphaël Guerreiro on a run into the left side of the area, then smartly dropped the ball back to his Portuguese teammate for an emphatic finish from six yards.

With seven minutes left in regulation, the 19 year-old notched his second assist, effortlessly tapping a cross from the right edge of the area into the path of Jude Bellingham for a one-time finish.

The Danes looked to have pulled one back in the 89th minute – not enough to cause any nervousness – but the goal was called off following a VAR review for an offside infraction.

Dortmund are now second in Group G, as leaders Manchester City thrashed Sevilla by a 4-0 margin. They visit RB Leipzig over the weekend in Bundesliga play, then visit City on Wednesday in a battle for group supremacy.

PSG 2 – 1 Juventus

Juventus had a poor start to this season’s Champions League campaign, losing to PSG with a second-half goal by American star Weston McKennie being the only highlight for the Bianconeri.

The American was initially left on the bench by Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, however was brought on at the half with the visitors trailing 2-0, and likely secured his return to a starting role with his strong half of play.

In addition to the goal early in the second half, he completed 19 of 21 passes, attempted two shots, won half of his eight duels and committed a pair of fouls.

Kylian Mbappé put PSG ahead after only five minutes; Neymar chipped a pass over the defense with just the perfect weighting for the French striker to extend his leg and one-time the resulting shot past Juve keeper Mattia Perin for the early lead.

The 23 year-old star then made it 2-0 just before the midway point of the half, this time playing a give-and-go with Achraf Hakimi and striking low from 13 yards to complete his brace.

McKennie entered at the half for 19 year-old flavor of the month Fabio Miretti, and quickly left his mark by pulling the Bianconeri to within a single goal.

Following a short corner in the 53rd minute, Filip Kostic lofted a cross from near the left edge of the field towards the far side of goal, where McKennie burst in mid-air to bury his header for his first goal of the new season in any competition.

While the two teams played toe-to-toe until the end, PSG were able to hold the scoreline, and took all three points at the final whistle.

McKennie and the rest of the Juve squad will be looking for a straightforward victory when they host Salernitana on Sunday, then will welcome Benfica in Turin three days later.

RB Salzburg 1 – 1 AC Milan

Sergiño Dest made his competitive debut for Italian giants AC Milan on Tuesday night, coming on as a late substitute in the second half in their disappointing 1-1 draw at Red Bull Salzburg.

The game was ultimately decided in the first half, with the two teams trading goals before the break, then failing to make any headway after the break.

Noah Okafor gave the Austrians the shock lead after 28 minutes. His new Brazilian teammate Fernando smartly picked up a loose ball just outside the area, and quickly slipped it to the Swiss international for a charging finish from the left side of the six-yard box.

The Italian champions equalized five minutes before the half, Ismaël Bennacer charging forward on a counter and picking out Rafael Leao on the left flank for a run into the area.

The Portuguese winger then slid the ball over to Alexis Saelemaekers just beyond the penalty area for a scrappy finish through a crowd of friends and foes.

Dest entered the field in the 57th minute as part of a triple-switch by Milan coach Stefano Pioli, and was an active presence. He totaled 38 touches, completed 17 of 26 passes, created one chance, was accurate on his only cross, and made seven recoveries.

Nevertheless, the 1-1 score stood until the final, with the Austrian perhaps a bit happier with their share of the spoils.

Dest will look to make his league debut when Milan visit Sampdoria on Saturday, then will hope to play a role when the Rossoneri host surprise Group E leaders Dinamo Zagreb four days later.

Benfica 2 – 0 Maccabi Haifa

Josh Cohen was introduced to life amongst Europe’s elite as Maccabi Haifa visited Portuguese powerhouse Benfica on Tuesday, with the Israelis forced to return home after suffering a shut-out defeat.

John Brooks was in uniform for his new team, however stayed glued to the Benfica bench for the duration.

Cohen and Haifa held their own in the first half, keeping the Portuguese powerhouse off the scoreboard before finally capitulating in the second half.

Cohen had as solid of a game as one might expect in his Champions League group-stage debut, making three saves compared to the two goals conceded, and avoiding any major errors against the dominant opponent.

Benfica’s opener came in the 50th minute when Rafa Silva trickily flicked in a sharp cross from Alex Grimaldo in midair, then doubled the lead four minutes later with Grimaldo nailing a spectacular shot from distance that dropped over the line after clanging off the underside of the crossbar.

Haifa will have their backs against the wall when they host PSG next Wednesday, while Benfica face a tough trip to Juventus and Weston McKennie.

Ajax 4 – 0 Rangers

James Sands and Malik Tillman both started for Rangers on Wednesday night, but the team’s return to the Champions League group stage after a 12-year absence was ruined in a thrashing at the hands of Ajax.

Tillman managed a half of play before being pulled by head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst, and was largely neutralized with only 16 touches, one chance created, and no attempted shots.

Sands played the full game in central defense for the visitors, and like the rest of the team, had a forgettable night that saw the utterly overwhelmed by their Dutch hosts, who held a shocking 75% of possession.

Mexican international Edson Alvarez got the scoring underway for the hosts in the 17th minute when he headed in a corner from Steven Berghuis, then Berghuis made it 2-0 in the 32nd with a low, deflected roller from the top edge of the area that sent Rangers keeper Jon McLaughlin the wrong way.

Mohammed Kudus added a third moments later, doing all the work on his won by maintaining possession under pressure in the midfield, freeing himself for darting run into the area, the unleashing a low shot towards the far post for the score.

Seeking a change of pace, van Bronckhorst pulled Tillman as part of a triple-switch after the half. While his adjustments did stop the bleeding, and the team thought they grabbed a consolation in the 71st minute ony to see Borna Barisic’s goal called back for offside.

However, Steven Bergwijn added a final goal for the hosts, runnning onto a a poor tap-back from Ryan Jack, evading McLaughlin’s the sliding tackle, and putting the ball away into the open net.

Having suffered their second straight 4-0 loss after their Old-Firm blowout loss over the weekend, Rangers will try to lick their wounds with a visit to Aberdeen on Saturday, before Tuesday’s daunting home game against Napoli.

Notes

Christian Pulisic played the final 15 minutes of regulation for Chelsea, managing one shot amidst his 11 touches, as the Blues shockingly fell 1-0 on the road to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday, in a game that was the last straw leading Thomas Tuchel’s firing the following morning.

Cameron Carter-Vickers and Celtic had an unsurprisingly rough outing against reigning European champions Real Madrid on Tuesday night, losing 3-0 after valiantly holding on through the first half. Carter-Vickers had an individually strong game, completing more than 92% of his nearly 50 passes and firing a pair of accurate long-ball attempts, but could do little against the star-studded Spaniards.

Timothy Chandler didn’t take the field for Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday night as they lost at home to Sporting by a 3-0 margin.

Owen Otasowie was an unused substitute for Brugge on Wednesday night, a game where the Belgians took a surprising 1-0 home win over Germans Bayer Leverkusen.

By David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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